Mamigonian v. Biggs

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 03-14-2013
  • Case #: 11-15398
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: District Judge Duffy for the Court; Circuit Judges Gould and M.D. Smith.
  • Full Text Opinion

District courts do not have jurisdiction over petitions for habeas relief on orders of removal, over complaints regarding pending applications, or over mandamus claims regarding decisions already made by agencies; however, the REAL ID Act does provide for review of final, non-discretionary determinations by USCIS.

Silva Mamigonian, a native and citizen of Armenia, was paroled into the United States in 2002 and married a US citizen in 2003. She filed for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident in 2005, and was denied adjustment in 2007. Her second adjustment application was denied in 2009. In 2010 she filed to reopen proceedings, and after denial she filed a third adjustment application. This application was also denied, but the second and third applications were reopened on January 10, 2011 and February 3, 2011. While these applications were open, she filed a district court petition seeking habeas relief to enjoin her deportation, a reversal of her first adjustment application, and an order to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) to approve her second and third adjustment applications. The district court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit held that the REAL ID Act precludes aliens such as Mamigonian from seeking habeas relief for orders of removal in district courts. Additionally, there was no final agency action on the second and third adjustment applications, which were reopened and pending when Mamigonian filed her district court complaint. Any mandamus action was then mooted when the agency issued its final decision. However, the panel held that district courts have jurisdiction to hear cases challenging final agency determinations of immigration benefits listed in 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(20)(B)(i) made on non-discretionary grounds, so long as there are no pending removal proceedings in which the alien could apply for such benefits, because the REAL ID Act did not demonstrate congressional intent to abrogate that rule as announced in Montero-Martinez v. Ashcroft. Therefore, the district court now has the jurisdiction to hear Mamigonian’s claim. Additionally, the panel declined to convert her appeal into a petition, and additionally declined to dismiss her claim under the fugitive disentitlement doctrine because her whereabouts were known to counsel, the Department of Homeland Security, and the court. AFFIRMED.

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